These days, tattoos are becoming increasingly commonplace and accepted. However, some people feel like in some settings, such as the work space, tattoos might not be OK.
While tattoos have made leaps and bounds in terms of changing perceptions, some people still tend to view tattoos as taboo. Recently, several arguments have been made that tattoos should be allowed in the workplace. Just take companies like Petco and Starbucks, both who changed their rules after employees petitioned that they should be able to show off their ink during work hours. Yet while offices and places of employment are becoming more lenient, what about job interviews? Can you be professional while showing off a tattoo?
Many people believe that if an office is pro-tattoo, people should feel comfortable bearing their tattoos during the interview. Yet some still might make a conscious effort to hide their tattoos or wear a long sleeve shirt to the interview. So what gives? How do job candidates make sure their tattoos don't discount their interview impression?
"People who are 60 or older believe showing off a tattoo in the workplace is inappropriate."
A lot of it depends on the company, the office location, the age of the interviewer and several other underlying factors, according to an infographic from Skinfo. For instance, nearly half of people who are 60 or older believe that showing off a tattoo in the workplace is inappropriate, while only 22 percent of people between the age of 18 and 25 thought that. Why? People who are older grew up in a different society where tattoos were often associated with prisoners, motorcyclists and other people outside of the law. As a result, they may view tattoos as a sign of a rebellious nature, which is certainly something no interviewer wants to see in a potential candidate.
It also has a lot to do with the industry. For instance, if you're looking at a conservative company, or one that tends to have a lot of older employees, presenting a tattoo during the interview might not be the greatest idea. If you're looking at a role that also deals with a lot of customer interaction, such as a health care provider or sales person, tattoos might not be as welcome as in other behind-the-scenes roles. For instance, only 13 percent of health care personnel, 12 percent of educational and family services staff and 8 percent of government workers have tattoos. Yet other businesses might be a little different. If you're looking at a company that is known for having a lot of younger employees, tattoos might be OK. Creative industries also tend to embrace tattoos, so if a hiring manager notices one on you during an interview, they might not think anything of it as they probably have a few other employees with tattoos already.
Company location tends to matter too, oddly enough. Only 36 percent of companies on the West Coast and in New England feel that tattoos are inappropriate in the workplace, but approximately 55 percent of companies in the southwestern region of the U.S. view ink as unprofessional.
The costs of covering up
Yet regardless of what industry or company you're looking at, showing your tattoos during an interview could be a turn off. Only 3 in 10 hiring managers believe that witnessing a candidate with bad breath or a piercing is more alarming than meeting one with a visible tattoo. Turns out, many hiring managers would prefer you cover up for preliminary meet and greets. However, if you have tattoos in a noticeable place such as your forearms, you're better off telling the interviewer that you hid them. After all, as a candidate you don't want to walk into your first day of work and stir up controversy because you're in an outfit that shows your tattoos. Simply note that you have tattoos and ask about the company policy and dress code. Sometimes, you can find out long before you even interview, which may help you determine whether you want to work at this company or not. If you find out this company isn't too big on tattoos, are you willing to cover it up consistently, or would you rather work somewhere with a more lenient policy?
Of course, if you end up going into an industry that isn't too keen on visible tattoos, it might be a better idea to remove your ink unless it means a lot to you. In 2014, a lot of people felt that they weren't worth keeping. Approximately 96,000 tattoo removals were performed. This process isn't going to become less popular any time soon either – Skinfo estimated that the average U.S. spending on tattoo removals will continue to increase and will reach $83.2 million by 2018, just a few short years away.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you, though there are several factors that clearly might influence your decision. Before your interview, do a little research on your industry and its views of tattoos to help make your decision a little easier.